Money well spent

Over the past few weeks much of the news about Mercyhurst College has centered around plans to improve many of the facilities across the campus. The new plans include a spectacular new entrance-way and a new academic building.
While the academic building makes sense, the gate seems to just ooze of perception build-up. This money could be better spent improving the athletic facilities and building up a healthy and competitive athletic program. This program would be able to compete at the national level, bringing recognition to Mercyhurst.
A successful athletic team can noticably raise admissions at a college or university.
Evidence of this effect on enrollment has occurred at many universities over the years. Many people classify this increase in enrollment stemming from sports success as the “Flutie Effect.” The “Flutie Effect” reflected an increase in applications at Boston College after Doug Flutie’s “Hail Mary” to beat the University of Miami in 1984. Ever since this “Flutie Effect” was first detected, there have been many compelling studies done to prove or disprove it.
Despite those who doubt the direct effect athletics play on admissions, it is rather hard to ignore this phenomenon when it occurs at other universities. George Mason University’s 22 percent increase in admissions after its 2006 Final Four appearance or the steady rise in admissions at Gonzaga University since its rise to NCAA basketball prominence are two notable recent examples.
Doubters will argue that other factors contributed to the rise in admissions and enrollment. They will go to new dorms, increases in financial aid and new programs as the main contributors. This is partially true, I agree, but to deny the effect that athletics can have on enrollment and admissions is a product of delusional, intellectual snobs who fear losing funding for their educational programs.
The correlation of exposure derived from athletic success to a rise in admissions and enrollment is a concept easy to understand. The more a college is on TV, in newspapers or magazines, the more the college is exposed to a broader and even local audience. Who honestly ever heard of Gonzaga before its success in basketball other than the people in the surrounding areas?
The one aspect to this that is often ignored when discussing athletic effect on admissions and enrollment is what it gives the students while they are at college. A good athletic program gives students something to do. There is only so much studying and reading a student can take before insanity sets in.
In order to relieve this stress, students must have something to do. Athletic events provide the students with something to do. It allows them to go out with their friends and cheer on their college. This provides a safe way for students to have a good time and builds up school spirit. Mercyhurst College needs to expand the opportunities for students to partake in this excitement. Honestly, how will a long row of trees and benches help retention rates?